By Humphrey Palmer
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E. no good for knowing anything; . for if all the premisses are known already then so is the conclusion (being one of them), and argument becomes superfluous, while if at the outset the conclusion is uncertain then the premisses are not all known so inference cannot begin. We call an argument p-circular if (i) it is incomplete, and (ii) it cannot be completed without circularity. 11 p-Circularity Circularity and incompleteness are readily definable and easy to detect, whereas 'cannot be completed without ••• ' is negative, and more debatable.
Such a science cannot be observational. 20 Contributed Ideas There is a further difficulty in making science empirical. Natural science deals largely with connections, with links inferred, but not observed, between events. We see the sun shining. We notice a stone getting warm, and say "the sun warms the stone" - going beyond what we actually observed. That extra link is contributed by us. Now suppose one managed to frame such fictional connections into a proper-looking 'science'. What would it be a science of?
So the question is: Which complexes can be known without first knowing their constituents? The statement "George hit Bill", if made, must be made by someone and to somebody. Without a receiver, no communication can occur; without a sender, the message will not even start. But something further is required, if information is to pass thereby from sender to recipient: both must have in mind the same two characters called 'George' and 'Bill', to refer the message to. Without such referees the message will be 'in the air': intelligible in a general way, but unapplied.